I had an interesting encounter yesterday, one that was illuminating while failing to be enjoyable. The Kingdom is not as active on social media as we are told we 'should' be, but from time to time I will spend some energy on twitter. Yesterday I made a rather tangental reply to the tweet of a young Catholic lady. It turned out that each of us had been unclear (I blame the terse format) and off we went.
But others, followers of the young lady, were incensed by my statement. Three young men in general, one of them in particular, were very openly angry about my statement. Despite my attempts to point out that they had made the same error as the young lady I was replying to, thus their emotions were based on a misapprehension, they grew more and more angry. Slurs, curses, and vile invective of all sorts spewed forth as this young man worked himself into a lather.
He accused me of wishing to grind others (particularly children!) under the boot heel of tyranny; that I am a power-mad dictator in waiting, eager to oppress and enslave the entire world in my mad thirst for conquest. In between curses he also threw in such epithets as 'tyrant' and 'big government stooge' but the slur he obviously felt was the most powerful and dirtiest thing he could call me was 'statist'.
By now you are probably making assumptions about the topic in discussion. Was he furious at me for being a Monarchist? No. Was it that I am a king? No. Was it my rejection of Democracy? No. Was it the structure or nature of Edan? No.Was it about Edan being officially Catholic? No. Was it the most common topic of outrage from outsiders, that women do not get the vote in Edan? No.
This young man was full of rage because he mistakenly thought I advocate for a requirement that children have a permit for lemonade stands.
Yes, his fury was about food safety permits for children. I had mistakenly thought the young lady was speaking about professional (adult) vendors and she mistakenly thought I was discussing children in their own family's yards. Regardless of my attempts to tell these young men my actual topic, they refused to believe it. I believe they wished to revel in their righteous anger.
Early on I almost terminated the conversation, but I persisted. Why? I was curious as to how angry they would become and hoped that their emotional state would reveal why they were so angry. And I believe that these young men did teach me something, something important.
These young men feel powerless. And this is no illusion, they largely are powerless. They were all Americans, White, male, and under the age of 26. While I read online many people calling this combination one of 'privilege', I disagree. They have no real economic power, no political influence, they have no 'leaders' who are not corporate-controlled entertainers, and there is no special-interest lobby working for them. They face barriers in many ways - poor education, expensive education, limited job prospects, a legal system that favors others, and being told they are privileged, as well. Western society has been busily redefining their role for so long and in so many conflicting ways they have no clear concept of what they should be doing or why and certainly no higher calling, which often leads to a lack of higher aspirations. Secular, unchurched, or 'post-Christian Protestant' they have no underlying moral framework, religious community, or spiritual support to call upon. In short, these young men are truly lost.
These young men are not stupid; they felt powerless, examined their lives and concluded that they are powerless. And they are correct - in any democratic system people without wealth or pull are powerless. They then tried to determine the primary reason that they are powerless and concluded that it is because of their government. This is also largely correct; the governmental system is the primary reason they are disenfranchised. But this is actually the start of the problem at hand - once they determined that the primary reason that they are powerless is the government, they stopped asking more questions. The next logical step should be to ask 'why is the particular form of government I live in making me powerless?'. That is the step that leads people in search of alternates to the system in which they live. Instead, these young men (as well as the majority of Anarchists, Libertarians, etc.) didn't ask the next question, instead reaching a conclusion. Their investigation went something like this;
"I feel powerless. Am I truly powerless?"
They examine their lives and determine they are, in fact, powerless.
"I am powerless. What is the primary reason I am powerless?"
They examine their world and determine the government is the primary reason they are powerless.
"The government is the primary reason I am Powerless."
"Therefore, all governments are Bad."
Yes, I am aware that there is a fair amount of political thought about such topics as Anarchy, Anarcho-Capitalism, Libertarianism, etc. I am focusing on the majority of people who adopt these positions and why they do so. After all, a lot of the young people who do ask 'what is it about my government that makes me feel powerless?' end up becoming Communists, National Socialists, etc. because they assume anything else is better than what they have. I will need to write about that in the future.
Once these young adults reach their conclusion, that all government is bad, then it is a short trip to the belief that any regulation is bad simply because a government must exist to enforce it. Before too long this can lead to the conclusion that any form of authority is bad and that Anarchy is the only solution.
Again, how can you blame these young adults? They have never been taught about true alternatives to the world they live in, they have often never been trained to question. They instinctively know something is wrong and are doing their level best to identify and correct the problem. They have never been taught about morals and ethics and in the absence of knowledge of actual morality they struggle to build a framework so that they can identify Good and Evil. Since the only certainty they have been able to build for themselves is Government = Bad their natural passion for goodness and justice is funneled into opposition to government.
Thus, belief that someone wants kids to get a permit for lemonade drives them to righteous fury. In the absence of a real knowledge of good and evil; in a society that fails to guide them to their place in the world; in a culture that mocks concepts of honor, duty, and courtesy; and in a milieu that praises license as liberty it is almost all they have.
My question for you is - how do we reach these people? How do we break through to them and show them a larger world? How do we teach them true morality and save them?